Do not open your heart to every man, but discuss your
affairs with one who is wise and who fears God. Do
not keep company with young people and strangers. Do
not fawn upon the rich, and do not be fond of
mingling with the great. Associate with the humble
and the simple, with the devout and virtuous, and
with them speak of edifying things. Be not intimate
with any woman, but generally commend all good women
to God. Seek only the intimacy of God and of His
angels, and avoid the notice of men.
We ought to
have charity for all men but familiarity with all is
not expedient. Sometimes it happens that a person
enjoys a good reputation among those who do not know
him, but at the same time is held in slight regard by
those who do. Frequently we think we are pleasing
others by our presence and we begin rather to
displease them by the faults they find in us.
It is a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not
to be one's own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it
is to command. Many live in obedience more from necessity than
from love. Such become discontented and dejected on the slightest
pretext; they will never gain peace of mind unless they subject
themselves wholeheartedly for the love of God.
Go where you may,
you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of
authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different
places have deceived many.
Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is
attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we
must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.
Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of
everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be
willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good,
you accept another's opinion for love of God, you will gain much
more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to
advice and take it than to give it. It may happen, too, that while
one's own opinion may be good, refusal to agree with others when
reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.
Shun the gossip of men as much as possible, for discussion of
worldly affairs, even though sincere, is a great distraction
inasmuch as we are quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity.
Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not associated
with men. Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip among ourselves
when we so seldom part without a troubled conscience? We do so
because we seek comfort from one another's conversation and wish
to ease the mind wearied by diverse thoughts. Hence, we talk and
think quite fondly of things we like very much or of things we
dislike intensely. But, sad to say, we often talk vainly and to no
purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and
Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly.
When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say
something that will edify.
Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to
remove the guard from the tongue. Devout conversation on spiritual
matters, on the contrary, is a great aid to spiritual progress,
especially when persons of the same mind and spirit associate
together in God.